Focal Banger - The Alchemist

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Focal BangerFocal Banger

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110 Reviews
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Reviews: 110
Hads: 1,390
rAvg: 4.57
pDev: 8.1%
Wants: 1,170
Gots: 161 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
The Alchemist visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: hillvt4me on 01-30-2014

An American IPA, hopped judiciously with Citra and Mosaic.
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Reviews: 110 | Hads: 1,390
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Big hop aroma, the Citra has been tamed. Lasting head on yellow body, leaving a lace trail. Citra dominated taste, rounded out by subordinate tropical fruit. Fresh tasting, a good complement in the product line to the Heady Topper. Can from Tom, thank you. (256 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

kind of cool how this one is showing up all over the place in vermont now, locals are calling it heady light, but i totally disagree. while it is super drinkable (so is heady in my opinion), its got a totally different hop complexion going on, with the two varietals coming in waves. usually mixes of hops sort of all splash in at once, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes in cacophonous chaos, but this beer has two distinct stages, where the citra comes in first, middle of the beer, with preserved lemon and tart fruitiness, while the mosaic comes on much later, with an only southern hemisphere pineapple tropicality. really fun transition, and the sometimes one dimensional citra is elevated be coming first. the grain base of the beer seems to me relatively nondescript, engineered as a hop platform, not as a major contributor, but there are some light fresh cereals in this and enough texture to hold the hop resins. not as dry as anticipated, but its a fruity tasting sweetness thats left in the end, hoppy for sure, but not wicked bitter. scary drinkable. i was worried these guys were never going to make anything but heady, so its nice to see this one out there, and its reassuring that its basically just as good as heady. well worth seeking out or trading for, you wont be disappointed. (1,298 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.39/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When it comes to hops, Alchemist knows how to get the good ones and knows how to use them once in the brewhouse. This IPA of ultimate dryness and utter hop dominance brings out a taste in pale ale that's likely not yet been seen, better yet- tasted.

Focal Banger jumps right out with a burst of citrus and a backing of tropical aroma and taste. Supporting malt sweetness is thin and honied, giving the fruit flavors a sense of dripping with sweet and tangy fructose nectar. The sweetness seems right at home with the hops.

And the beer simply blossoms over the middle, really opening up those tangy and tart red grapefruit, mandarin, lemon drop, pineapple, mango and juniper flavors. And as the sweetness gently fades, the hops stand out even more, releasing notes of lemon verbena, mild chive, grassy botanicals and a floral drift of honeysuckle perfume.

its massively dry backbone becomes a honeycomb of malt texture where its flavor presence has dropped off entirely. What's left is a creamy-dry hop bitterness that strips the palate of thirst with ease. Its light body throughout perfectly preserves the attitude of American IPA. (1,136 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.28/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Can: Poured a clear light yellow color ale with a nice white foamy head with excellent retention and some great lacing. Aroma of huge floral notes of grass notes with some light resinous notes also perceptible. Taste is also dominated by an all-out hops assault with tons of grassy notes with light limey notes and some resinous hoppy notes. Residual sugar can be detected but doesn’t stray the taste from the hoppy notes. Body is about average with great carbonation. Very enjoyable but almost close to being unbalanced with those sharp hoppy notes. (552 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.73/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 16oz can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep gold color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains an excellent blend of fruity citrus, floral hops and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out with a quick burst of citrus and caramel sweetness. Then a strong but not over-powering floral hops bitterness comes in. The malt character is a bit on the thin side for the style but it works quite well for this beer and provides a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, good kick, excellent representation of style, this is a tremendous beer to drink for a very long time. (843 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
4.28/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Blackback, Waterbury, VT.

Hazy yellow-orange pour into a Hill Farmstead wine glass (as is the way of things at Blackback), topped with a small, creamy, white head that retained well and left some strands of lacing on the glass. Aroma of citrusy hops, tropical fruit, some pine, fresh cut grass. An assertive hop bitterness right up front in the taste, all the qualities detected in the nose, grapefruit, mango, grass, some light floral notes, with a soft, bready, pale malt profile. It's about as hoppy/bitter as Heady Topper, but a bit lighter and softer, and at only 1%ABV less, it's pretty comparable overall. Light-medium body, crisp and dry, and easily drinkable. When this goes into bigger production, trying the two beers side by side will obviously be something I look forward to doing. (805 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.23/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Hazy bright orange. Decent white head. Medium collar.

Smell - Grapefruit hops. Some orange. Musty. Pale malt.

Taste - Great hop flavor. Some sweet orange hops. Grainy cracker malt and a hint of pale malt sweetness. Finishes with a medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Bitter, but nothing overwhelming.

Overall - Excellent. The Mosaic differentiates it from just being Heady Jr. (436 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.05/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can from MrBarleywine, thanks for the hookup Mike!
Cloudy hazy lemon orange color with a huge frothy bubbly bone white head that persists forever. Citrusy tropical fruit lemony pine and resin dominate the aroma with just a bit of sweet bread deep underneath. The flavor holds a touch of lemon with lots more citrus and tropical flavors like the aroma suggested. Bread and light caramel maltiness bring in a hint of balance. Moderate level of hop bitterness with a lingering bite at the end of every sip. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a resinous sweet watery mouthfeel. Quite easy to drink and very flavorful, its a great beer. I prefer the depth of flavors from Heady, but I could drink this one regularly with ease. (739 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a shaker pint, the beer is a bright, hazy, lemon yellow coloring with a dense, foamy, frothy, bright white head. Aromas of key lime, tangerine, pine resin, and a solid bitterness, all on a light, toasted backbone. Flavors are tremendous, with a blast of tart lime and grapefruit, followed by a solid, rich, sticky, dank blast of resinous bitter. Holy hell. There is a subtle cracker backbone, but this is a compliment at best to the barrage of citrus and sticky hops characteristics coming at you. Wow. Robust, yet light bodied, which keeps the drinkability through the roof. The aftertaste is surprisingly subtle, in comparison, with subtle grass, tart grapefruit, and hints of bitterness. Smooth, slightly dry finish. Just a damn near perfect beer in this can right here! (796 characters)

Photo of SadMachine
4.39/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a mostly clear golden straw color with a good sized fluffy white head that retains pretty well and leaves patchy lacing.

S- The aroma is excellent, highlighted by dank tropical fruit, lemon zest, and biscuity malt. Mango, blueberry surprisingly, orange, some mossy/earthy/herbal notes, and some yeast at the end. Some peach as well.

T- Pretty dank, juicy, and earthy. Actually hits a lot of notes that Heady does, which must be attributed to the yeast. Bitter citrus is prominent, but some sweeter peach and mango notes are there as well. Herbal and resinous, this coats the mouth and is bitter from the middle through the finish. The biscuity malt backbone is nice and crisp.

M- Coating, dry, bitter, and biscuity. Plentiful carbonation, and a medium body.

O- Very good IPA! The tropical fruits in the nose would make this world class if they were as prominent as in the flavor, but still an excellent beer! (921 characters)

Photo of Brad007
4.77/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Acquired at a can sale today.

Pours a cloudy whitish-gold hue with a frothy head into my glass. Can is a generic can with the Focal Banger logo sticker.

Juicy with a floral/citrus profile due to the "copious additions of Mosaic and Citra hops". Indeed.

Acidic tart grapefruit greets the tongue, followed by just a touch of mango with a chewy texture.

To me, the finish is similar to what would happen if you gargled with hop juice. A long lasting bitterness.

All hail The Alchemist! Focal Banger will do for IPAs what Heady Topper did for DIPAs. It's just a matter of time before their second brewery comes on line. (621 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.84/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Pours a murky, pale yellow color. Looks like fruit juice. Smaller head sits atop the hop oil-laden body. Very light lace.

S-Oh my goodness, Mosaic and Citra blow the skin off my face here. Full citrus bouquet, peaches, sweet pineapple. Some earthy and viny hoppiness. Papaya! Pure, ripe fruit-juice medley of hops. I would wear this as cologne.

T-The flavor just rolls over the tongue and the hoppiness oozes into my taste buds. Mango, papaya, peach, pineapple and medley of citrus. Some bitter flower stems. Even a bit of lemon. The malt is tasty in its own right; it provides a pleasurable sweetness that pairs so convincingly with all the juicy hop goodness. Citra and Mosaic in perfect harmony.

M-Resiny. Bitterness doesn't melt the palate. Lingering flavor. Medium bodied and a bit creamy. Very drinkable; it was made to be in my mouth at all times.

O-An obvious gem. The brewery that does hops the best nails an IPA, what a surprise. So lucky to try a can of this. It is simply stellar. I love this goddamn beer. (1,024 characters)

Photo of Jwale73
4.06/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale orange hue with a hazy clarity and a half-inch, tight, bright white head. Nose is floral, herbal and earthy with a trace of light toasted malts. Taste follows nose. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (but closer to light) with a lively carbonation. Overall, quite quaffable. Another great Alchemist offering. (325 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
4.15/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Pour is reasonably hazed peachy gold with a tight white head. Nose is loads of citrus hops with grapefruit and peach. Taste follows the nose, loads citrus, peach and grapefruit. Very dry and clean, well carbonated and lighter body. A lot like a slightly lower alcohol heady with a bit more fruity punch but less bright hop flavor. (330 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a very murky medium yellow, completely opaque except at the edges. The head is a fluffy, rocky and very dense one that's very close to pure white with the slightest yellow tint. IT finally rests at no less than 1/4 finger but it's a thick and heavy pillow that remains, dropping lace in a blend of spotting and netting as it does.
The bouquet is very nice, lots of citrus and earth, even a bit of must with, interesting, a crackery sort of note. There's even a touch of nut and herbal leaf riding underneath. It's very well hopped with no harshness resulting, more and more raw greenery developing as it sits. IT seems to develop a bit of acidity as time passes, dry and mildly sharp.
The taste brings out that herbal green right up front, and this beer's balance while relying on hops to carry the flavor meets expectations. A not-quite-piney note grows with the earthier undertones. The finish shows just a little rind and lingers with some dryness and a flash of wood.
The body is as firm a medium as it could be, lots of balance between crisp and smooth while running semi-dry from very beginning to lingering finish. (1,141 characters)

Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -11.4%

Thanks again to Joe_Grizzly for drowning me in Alchemist, really looking forward to this one. I got your Silver Bullet right here, mother….16 oz. can dumped into my purty Kuhnhenn glass.

The thing I love about Alchemist IPAs is that when you pop the top, the smell hits your nose at the speed of light. No need to suck in copious amounts of air, wet your nose, or otherwise search for the aroma. It is PRESENT. Filet knife sharp citrus, honeysuckle, bunch of airy tropical notes. The brew is a light, dull orange, with a head that appears focused on sticking around until the weekend arrives.

Focal Banger is an underhanded, dishonest brew. My first sip I thought “What kind of sweet, malt-driven-ass IPA is this…” & then my thoughts scattered. A malty base of sweetness, clover, & honey gives way quickly to the mid-palate of hops that stick close to the nose. A moderate bitterness rides along with the tropical punch, roaring citrus, bit of spiciness, fragments of lemon & perhaps banana. The end is interesting, as the bitterness builds with every sip, until the top of my mouth is wallowing in spite. Grassy. Light. I would have to say this is one of the easiest-drinking beers I have ever had, I’m drinking this about twice as fast as I would a ‘normal’ brew.

I like to compare stuff, so I’m going to say this isn’t quite in the same league as All-Stars Heady & Crusher. Which is to say this is merely excellent, rather than amazingly superior. I’ll take that kind of third-string any day. (1,523 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.79/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Can brought back to me from the truck sale, and poured into my Hill Farmstead stemware.

Pours a deep golden yellow, almost opaque, with some orange tints. 2 inch fizzy head slowly recedes into lots of sticky lacing on the glass. Really a beautiful sight, knocks the appearance of Heady out of the water.

Smells so pure and juicy, thanks to the large amounts of two of my favorite hops, Citra and Mosaic. Orange, pineapple, and a bit of grapefruit.

Tastes like a bitter dank orange creamsicle. Just pure hop goodness, they wrung some nice flavors out of the hops here. Not a whole lot of malt flavor, the malt manifests itself as the caramelized sugar on the oranges and pineapples. A little bit of pine, and some pleasant bitterness. I honestly wish this was a bit more bitter, but it's hardly a huge complaint.

Medium bodied, just unbelievably drinkable. No noticeable alcohol, a small amount of carbonation, really the perfect amount.

This isn't quite up to the level of Heady Topper, but it's pretty close. A juicy, hoppy delight. (1,038 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.39/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tallboy can poured into Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: translucent orange/yellow bodied beer with tons of suspended white chunks in the beer. 3 fingers worth of bone white head that leaves behind a thick lacing of head on the side of the glass. The head had alot of staying power and eventually drops to a thin cap.

Smell: sweet citrus mostly oranges are what I smell immediately. Grapefruit and resinous pine notes next. Hint of tropical fruits. Slighty biscuity malts and maybe even a hint of honey.

Taste: Mild almost moderate bitterness from this hoppy beer. Oranges and tropical fruits. Grapefruit and resinous pine. Hops taste dank and dirty; just like Heady Topper does. Finishes with mild bitterness; mostly grapefruit rind and resinous pine.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied beer with low carbonation. The beer is really really crushable, but its slightly watery. Just a slight fizz as the beer goes over your tongue. Needs more carbonation, but I will give it a decent score because of the drinkablity factor.

Overall: I like heady topper better. If you could get the mouthfeel on heady topper in this beer it would vastly improve the beer. Still a great hoppy beer by the Alchemist. It will be a great beer for hot weather. (1,226 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.31/5  rDev -5.7%

Apparently BA's "Phone friendly" interface refuses to post reviews written on iOS? Whatev...

Nutshell: this is like if Heady were a Citra bomb.

It's super intense and delicious: "decadent" is probably the best word. And while that's great, the lack of depth of hop profile holds it back from excellence. Heady can get away with its largeness because the hops come at you with wave after wave of cascading variegation. The relative simplicity of Focal makes its heft more salient, and finishing a can is a bit like trying to eat half a cheesecake in one sitting. (569 characters)

Photo of dar482
4.89/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer comes in a bright golden orange with tons of particle matter in there.

The aroma is definitely a mix of Citra and Mosaic. There’s sweet peaches, apricot, orange peel, tangerine along with this bubble gum note of Mosaic along with its big dankness on the back end.

On the flavor, its follows with much more similarities to Heady Topper than the aroma. In the front. The front hits of peaches, papaya, guava, citrus peel, with the main flavor being grapefruit bitterness. A signature malt quality of Heady with a creamy body and a light breadiness, but still really crisp. The finish is very Heady Topper with this herbacious, floral, piney dankness.

In the end, despite the different hops, this beer follows Heady Topper very closely. Kimmich just cannot disappoint. A really hoppy and easy drinking brew along with a big dank herbacious quality in the back. (871 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
4.51/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes; sticker-labeled can from the first can release into a tulip.

A: Hazy pale amber body under a half inch of fine white head. Ok retention, light lace. Pretty nice.

S: Intense herbal, floral, and citrusy hoppiness. A bit of pine, too. Really dank, powerful aroma. Excellent.

T: Follows the nose at first, but with a bit more emphasis on grapefruit pith and pure bitterness. Long, bitter, herbal aftertaste. Really resinous.

M: Delicate body with some lively carbonation. Works well with the intense flavors.

O: Terrific IPA; not quite the masterpiece that I often find Heady to be, but a beer that I'd love to drink any time.

Cheers! (655 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
4.17/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

1785th Review on BA
Can to Stemless Alchemist Glass
16 oz tall boy

Thanks to Jake and Mike

App- When I crack the can on this one, I do get a good solid IPA pour. The color reminds me of a orange and pineapple color combo with some decent orange and light yellows and a bit of gold. A smaller head was there and the disappears. The cling is nice down the glass and its a mix of bubbles and sediment coming towards me.

Smell- This was a good mix of tropical bursts from the hop combinations and then trails off into a bit of forest like pine and resin with a little bit of a skunk aroma to me. The prevailing citrus note is that of pineapple.

Taste- I will say I am quite enjoying this beer and I am aware its not meant to be a Heady. This was good and rated as such. The fruit and citrus forward taste from the hop combo is delicious. Prevailing fruits of orange, tangerine, pineapple dominate the front and the pine take center stage in the back.

Mouth- A creamy and airy medium body with a good medium carbonation behind. Silky like a stout, but bubbly like a DIPA. I enjoyed the balance quite a bit.

Drink- This was a treat. I never expected to land a can, because I dont trade that much, but that you fellas. This was a great tick. I love the dont be a Dbag sticker because they ran out of stickers. A good beer, could be great if not to be outdown by another beer from the same brewery. (1,396 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev -5.9%

A-Cloudy deep orange, two finger head with nice lacing.

S-Citrus, tropical notes, grass and hops.

T-Citrus, tropical, grass with nice hops, a mild bitterness as well.

M-Medium bodied, nice carbonation with hop resins.

O-A solid IPA from the Alchemist, they know what they are doing with hops. (296 characters)

Photo of Stevedore
4.65/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz poured on tap in Waterbury, VT. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 2/12/2014.

App- hazy yellow-orange body, fair one finger white head, some retention, some lacing. Looks awfully identical to the Heady I had sitting next to it.

Smell- juicy citrus, mango, pineapple with just a hint of bread and biscuits backing it all up. Smells great and certainly promised to be a hop-forward beer.

Flavor- similar to the nose but even better. Insane juicy citrus and passion fruit notes with a nice semi-balanced biscuit and caramel sweetness. Not particularly bitter either.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied, similar to Heady Topper. Good carbonation. Not terribly bitter.

Overall- very juicy and more fruity than Heady Topper, and less bitter to boot. Excellent IPA. Glad this is coming into full production. Thanks Laura!

Re-reviewed: had this out of a tallboy can 5/7/2014. Thanks Joe. This one essentially supports my first impression based on a tap pour. So juicy, hop-forward with just the perfect amount of biscuity malt backbone that I prefer, with a great mouthfeel. Glorious IPA that I wish I could have more of. (1,134 characters)

Photo of Resuin
4.56/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 ounce can into a pint glass. This was released a week ago today so is quite fresh.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy, orange-tinted honey-amber and leaves a finger of slightly off-white head which lingers for a bit before fading to a layer atop the beer, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Big citrus/mango hops. Some resin, hint of pine. Lots of tropical notes. Really expressive and powerful aroma. Mouth-watering.

Taste: Matches the aroma well, but a bit more pine. Citrus, mango, pineapple, resin, a hint of honey, earthy notes, orange rinds. Huge hop presence. Finishes smooth and a little bitter.

Mouth-feel: Well carbonated with a medium, slightly creamy body. Finishes smooth - the 7% is well hidden.

Overall: Another really nice IPA from the Alchemist. Plenty of similarities to Heady Topper but definitely has its own personality. Refreshing, but with really big flavor. Really tears up the palate with the hop explosions. (956 characters)

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Focal Banger from The Alchemist
100 out of 100 based on 110 ratings.